I was doing some tidying up and stumbled across an old, worn Nike box. Instantly I knew what it was, my memories of You. For as long as I can remember I’ve been terrible at getting rid of knick-knacks and doo-hickeys from days gone by, little bits of pieces of where I’ve gone and people I’ve met. It’s stocked full of pictures, writings (from both myself and others), art, notes and even my graduation ring. I sat there for almost an hour and a half sorting and sifting through everything in the box, feeling every feeling and recalling every moment…it was enlightening.
Why is this coming up now? Spring cleaning I suppose, both literally and emotionally.
For the first time I’m going to tell a story, one that has both shaped and guided me whenever I felt as though my life was becoming heavy or burdensome. A small few know this story, for the rest, I hope you see what I saw.
I was 16 turning 17 and smack in the middle of High School, a rather confusing and care-free time in my life. School had just started and my Junior year was in full swing, meeting new people and laughing with those I’d already befriended. It wasn’t too long into the school year that I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting a girl named Pia Alcairo, a very bubbly and gorgeous person both inside and out. Instantly we became close, you know, the sort of connection one rarely has with a person when you know without a doubt that there is chemistry. An enchanting smile, infectious laugh, dorky sense of humor and eyes reminiscent of the sun. You could say that from the moment I met her, I loved her. We spent a lot of time together, talking at school only to end up talking at home, running into each other while out and about, spending every moment attempting to make the other smile.
Throughout the school year, we were both in relationships, If I wasn’t with someone she was and vice versa. We supported each other when things were up and came together when the relationships took a turn for the worst. She was one of my best friends, a fact that I treasured in every way. As time went on, I began to recognize my feelings for her weren’t that of just friends…I was enamored and more. Around the end of the school year, I was invited to a party she was having at the local skating rink. She had just gotten into a relationship with a kid at school, a transfer student, and this party was the first public appearance they had made. Because I didn’t know her new beau, I became protective while trying to act as though nothing was wrong but she knew me too well and asked me what was wrong. I simply stated, “I don’t know him and that makes me nervous.” There was a brief silence and then she grabbed my hand and replied, “Why Shawn?” The look from her during the wait for a response to her question was one I’d seen before, it was one that a person gets when they are looking for a specific response.
I obliged, “In fear of losing what we have, I never told you but am now, I have feelings for you. Have for quite some time, not sure why I never said anything before.”
She responded immediately, “Me too”
She smiled, that enchanting smile, and said that we needed to talk but that it wasn’t the right place or time. I agreed. Both of us grinning from ear to ear we continued on with the skating as if nothing had happened but you could tell that a huge weight (or huge wait depending on how you look at it) was over and gone. As the year moved forward we continued to talk about it on a regular basis, letting loose all of the things we never said in fear of losing each other. She eventually ended her relationship and mine had ended abruptly not too long before that. We continued to see each other and speak more and more about not only our feelings but also about how we should wait just to be sure that it wasn’t some silly crush. It wasn’t. One sunny day, we were sitting and talking as usual, the bell rang for class and I walked her to her class as we finished discussing why we don’t like eating apples and whether or not we should say “Peachy” or “Grapey” in the phrase “That’s just _____”. We stopped at her locker and when she was done she just stood there looking at me.
“Shawn, I love you.”
“I love you too…*insert huge smile*”
“We should talk about this more, I’ll call you later tonight okay?”
“I’ll be waiting”
Oh how long the wait was for school to be over, for me to get home and the time it took until we were supposed to talk. As had happened in the past, she didn’t call. Between extra-curricular activities and her parents being strict, it was no surprise that she didn’t call and me being me, I decided to pretend to be mad the next day. ALARM! Got up, got ready and zoomed off to school, I couldn’t wait to get there. Heart pounding, lunch time and still no sight of her. Butterfly’s, 5th period and still nothing. End of school day, Diana crying? Multiple friends crying?
“National Crying Day?”
Diana: “You haven’t heard?”
Diana: “Pia’s died.”
From there it’s a bit hazy but I remember the next few days were many things but happy. Sadness, not just for the loss but because I was going to pretend to be upset with her for not calling. Joyful, the memories still fresh of her smile as she turned away to her last class of the day. Angry, that I hadn’t said something to her sooner or possibly the bandwagon mourners that were suddenly best of friends with her. I knew the truth and I’m sorry dear, you weren’t good friends, she told me. The day of her funeral had come a couple of days later, an ocean of thoughts and emotions up to that point and then suddenly, clear minded. What prompted this change? Realization. I had written a poem for her, there was only one copy and after I read it at the service I gently placed it under her pillow and simply said, “Thank you.” I walked to the back of the building and stared at everyone there. Listened to what everyone had to say and came to a freeing thought, I wasn’t crying because I didn’t care, I wasn’t crying because for the first time in my life I had told someone everything that was on my mind. She knew how I felt, what I thought and I had gotten the opportunity to tell her everything I’d ever wanted to tell her. I wasn’t one of the people saying my would have, should have, could have’s…I did. We did. She wasn’t was, She is and always shall be.
I am constantly thinking about her and the place she will always hold in my life, an impossibility to not think about her. A small fact is that we shared the same Birthday, kind of neat but definitely always a welcomed reminder of how close we were. How wonderfully blessed I’ve been.
Now, the box. Over the years I’ve refused to get rid of it’s contents, too many wonderful memories. It is painful at times to look through the box but along with the memories are the emotions that are attached to them. The happiness and laughter, the ear to ear smiles or the warmth of someone telling me they love me. All of these, regardless of time or place, continue to mean the world to me and created somewhat of a motto for me “A truly happy moment is worth a year of everything else” and is something I’ve never forgotten.
So, you may be asking yourself what to take from this and I feel that it could be one of many things but if it could be one thing, it would be:
Take the time to love, to be open to new things and try to never be a part of the “Have” club…doing is so much more rewarding even if it doesn’t feel that way.